Lost

When I first began teaching, I learned one important lesson: enforce the rules.  Students had to understand the rules and the consequences for breaking them. Any indication of leniency would authorize a yearlong battle with miscreants. Rules had to be black and white. Consequences had to be consistent and rational, not emotional, nor personal.  I had to stand firm for the benefit and safety of my students.

The afternoon news reported people camping and cooking on prohibited grounds, stealing electricity, smoking weed in public space — and they called it a protest.   An email sent from a district staff member informed teachers about a law to teach the historical events regarding discrimination against homosexuality. And what is the purpose of history?

When laws are ignored, when laws are not enforced, when laws change to justify the wrong, when what is wrong becomes right, when people believe what is wrong is right.  Confused and lost. Corrupt. Without God, we are prone to destroy our own selves.  I feel like David, experiencing the emotional ups and downs reflected in the beginning of the book of Psalms. “Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain?” (Psalm 2:1), “There are many who say, ‘Who will show us some good. Life up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!’ You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. / In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:7-8), “Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray” (Psalm 5: 2). And throughout these ups and downs, I must remind myself, “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Psalm 3:8).  I cannot yield to sin.

Great America

It’s the last week of school (today is the last day of workl! woot!) and 8th graders had the privilege of spending a day at Great America.  Little did I think about how other schools might send their 8th graders to the theme park on the same day. But it wasn’t too bad because there were only/maybe 3 other schools.

i see a bieber, but there were many more

Did you know:

1. there’s a separate teacher’s lounge in the theme park. It’s like a hotel lobby, with sofas, a large community table (where we can eat and grade), computers, iced beverages (i.e., water), and a clean bathroom.  With 900+ 8th graders roaming the park, the separate bathroom was the best perk. The public restrooms were… let’s say, less than agreeable.  I didn’t stay in the lounge, but I thought it was a convenient idea.

2. 14-year-olds are not too cool to shout “Hi!!” to their teachers. Either that, or we’re so awesome they are not embarrassed to say ‘hi’ to us. B)

teachers

3. Due to my reserved nature/façade, I surprised my kids when I jumped on board for all the rides.  Some were too scared for rides like “Drop Down” (like the “Supreme Scream” at Knott’s), so they watched with mouths agape as they witnessed their teachers soar into the sky. It was a funny sight, probably for both parties. -_-;

4. I am getting married in 1 month and 3 weeks! :O Invites will be sent… soon. :)

p.s. my shoes arrived and they are sparkly! :D  but I have a Toms-tan.  The upper half of my feet are dark… -_-;;

Road to Fame

Last year during the month of November, a handful of my students participated in a writing program called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month: Young Writers Program).  Some were enthusiastic about the idea of writing their own novels, some were participating to take part in the end-of-the-novel-writing pizza party (that I had used as an incentive), and some jumped on board and quickly jumped off board once they realized it was no easy task to write 10,000+ words.

Well today, one of my brilliant students who overachieved and wrote 59,000 words came into class with her actual novel! Students were settling into their seats when the student came by my desk and handed me a book, but I was too busy organizing my papers to notice what she was showing me, until she said, “Ms. Chung, it’s my novel! from NaNoWriMo!” I dropped everything and the other kids rushed to my desk. “What! Let me see! Let me see!” “Are you famous??” “You wrote a novel?!?!” “When did you write this?!” “How did you get it published??” “Did you design the cover?” “Can I buy one???” “Where can I buy it?” “Wow Wow! G’s famous!”

I never felt so happy and proud.

:)

School-related

  • This week is California Standards Testing and my 8th graders have the joy of  being tested in English, math, science, and history (ancient civilizations, medieval Europe, early U.S. history).  The year isn’t over — we haven’t studied everything there is to study for this year — so I feel it unfair that the state mandates these exams a month before the school year ends. Rushed curriculum, awkward last month of school, inaccurate test scores, too many problems. Not that we don’t have anything to teach after the exams, but the students tend to check out after the exams.
  • I think basic computer science should be a required course at elementary school level.  We shouldn’t be wasting our time teaching 6th graders how to save their Word document, how to adjust margins, how to insert headers/footers and page numbers.  We live in the 21st century; kids should be born with this knowledge, if not, be taught in the 1st grade.  Their future depends on computers.
  • Today a student asked if there was a country in Antarctica.  I said, “No, of course not.” And then I doubted myself, thinking, “Or is there???!”
  • No, there isn’t.  “Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis (“Southern Land”) date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries; to date, 46 countries have signed the treaty. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, supports scientific research, and protects the continent’s ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists of many nationalities and with various research interests.[1]”  (Wikipedia).
  • I have a brilliant idea for next year: (purpose: to foster curiosity/interest): I’ll create codes for students to decipher, whether it be convoluted sentences with advanced vocabulary, or actual riddles that are related to the day’s lesson.  I think it’ll be fun.
  • I sent out many progress reports this past week warning parents that their child was in danger of failing.  I received one very angry email and I replied with one very long response, which, in summary, “simply” stated how the student was not doing what she was capable of doing. No excuses!
  • Take that; ha-ya!
  • It’s funny — I can retaliate in writing, but I can’t in person.
The End.

A Vocabulary Lesson

I know many of my students do not enjoy drawing, but I occasionally force them anyway because I find it a helpful method in learning vocabulary words. Their sketches and stick figures are often so funny (sometimes absurd), I take pictures and present them through Powerpoint. The point is, they learn and remember the meanings of words through others’ drawings, through observation and interpretation.

Here are some examples:

stagnant

"The stick figure is thoughtfully looking at the statue."
*note: this student didn't draw stick figures; he drew numbers

inadequate
poor teddy bear
I was glad it wasn't English

"A super hero elephant was a whimsical thought."
"The forest was inhabited by an evil ogre."
thinking outside of the thought-bubble

*note to self: teach spelling

"The dude's hat is odd and unusual"